This list was assembled with the help of a lot of folks who love music from every level and angle. One of them is a college music professor, a capable musician with depth–and breadth–of knowledge and years of experience gigging around western Indiana. Another is an award-winning international recording artist. Yet another is a college music major, a guitarist since early childhood who has fronted more than one band in his young career. Others offering input range from a life-long music fan (a man who has sat in on virtually every live performance in his musically active hometown) to a pair of music writers (one who has just started playing guitar to appreciate what all these artists do…the other a life-long musician and a Wabash Valley Music Association Hall-of-Famer).
We asked everyone to pick their top 5-7 tracks. Some ranked them. Many did not. Most laid out their reasons for their choices. Others kept mum. Virtually everyone argued aggressively for their favorite song, and many discussed the challenges they faced choosing from the wide varieties of genres on the list. We were never in the same room, but if we were the conversation would have gotten intense, maybe even heated, at times. Something about that seems pretty beautiful, to be honest.
We have learned a lot about how to do this the next time. The nomination process must (and will) improve, and doing this on an annual or biennial time-frame will most certainly clean up the frayed chronological edges which this effort encountered.
But as cliched as it sounds to say “everyone is a winner”…? Well…everyone is. When we started this magazine a few of us dreamed of growing it out of the local scene and sending it into the musical stratosphere. In time, the wiser heads won the debate: NRM works when it tells the story of the folks who make music and art right here in our pubs, in our local studios, in our own homes, even.
So congratulations goes out to everyone. To those who made this list. To those who scored a nomination. To all those talented musicians who didn’t make this particular radar (yet), but have been winning fans and loyal friends one gig at a time.
#10 “It Ain’t Gonna Rain” by Will Scott
Will Scott. Photo by Narūnas Bukauskas
They are indeed. Watch Scott work his six-string, and you’ll double, and triple-take as he slaps and picks every note, bouncing his claws off the chiseled surface of his pick-guard. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to him bang out the song alone in live performance or listening to the slower-tempo of the recorded version on 2011’s Keystone Crossing, the other thing about “It Ain’t Gonna Rain” that pulls you in is the speaker’s narrative arc. Long held grudges. A thirst for justice. A life lived nursing a well-earned hard edge. Will Scott’s storytelling lives off those dusty roads where our grandparents grew up, in places where folks who had very little control over their destiny learned how to keep their heads low, stay out of the rain, and still be there sitting on their front porches. Scott’s stories are about people who do the hardest thing anyone can do in this world: survive.
#1. Announced on Wednesday, February 7th
#2. Announced on Wednesday, February 5th
#3. Announced on Monday, February 3rd
#4. Announced on Sunday, February 2nd
#5. Announced on Friday, January 31st
#6. Announced on Wednesday, January 29th
#7. Announced on Monday, January 27th
#8. Announced on Sunday, January 26th
#9. Announced on Friday, January 24th